A 21-member delegation comprising residents of parched localities in southern fringes of Jamshedpur began a padyatra for Delhi to apprise their water problem before Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 13.
“We had sought a date to meet Prime Minister through e-mail and have managed to get a date in June (June 13). We have set out on foot as a mark of protest and frustration at the successive governments’ delay in completion of the World-Bank funded water project. We hope to reach Delhi by that date,” said Subodh Jha, the convener of the Sampoorna Ghaghidih Vikash Samity, Bagbera Vikash Samity.
The Rs 237-crore Chotagovindpur-Bagbera drinking water project foundation stone was laid by then chief minister Raghubar Das on April 18, 2015, with a 2017-end deadline. Land acquisition delays extended the deadline to 2018-end.
The World Bank had contributed 50 per cent while the Centre share was 33 per cent and state government pitched in 16 per cent and the remaining one per cent was to be borne by the beneficiaries.
The work on the Bagbera section of the water treatment plant of 46 million litre capacity at Ghaghidih and five water towers at Bagbera, Kitadih, TRF Colony (Ghaghidih), Khasmahal and Khaspahari and an intake well near Domuhani on the bank of Kharkai is yet to be completed. It will supply piped water to nearly 1.2 lakh people residing in Bagbera, Kitadih, Ghaghidih and section of Parsudih.
The water treatment plant as part of the Bagbera water project. Bhola Prasad
However, the work on Chotagovindpur section comprising water treatment plant of 37 million litre capacity near Telco and five reservoirs at Chhota Govindpur, Gadhra, Sarjamda, Parsudih and Haludbani along with an intake well at Luabasa on the Subernarekha river is complete and water supply has started.
“We had met the drinking water and sanitation minister (Mithilesh Thakur) and got the information that the executing agency IL&FS has been blacklisted for failing to complete its obligations. The government will issue a re-tender for the remaining work. As per our estimates, nearly 75 per cent work has been completed and the construction of supporting pillars of the intake well is of poor quality as is evident with several pillars collapsing when the river was in spate last year. The groundwater level has dipped below 500 feet and it is difficult to fetch water from tubewells. We want a concrete intervention to solve our drinking water issue at the earliest,” said Subodh Jha.
They have collected funds through donations from residents and also carrying homemade foods during the march. The protesters would also be submitting a memorandum to governor Ramesh Bais on March 27 in Ranchi on their way to Delhi.
Minister Thakur said that they do not have any option but to assign a new company for completion of the work.
“The earlier company was declared bankrupt and could not complete the work during the previous government. We have no option but to re-assign the job to a new company. It is under process and will be done soon. In the meantime we are trying to make arrangements to meet the water problems of the residents during the summer,” said Thakur.